Posted in BJD, doll photography, Fashion dolls, miniature photography, Photography, Photoshop, toy photography

Through the miracle of Photoshop – changing your doll’s expression

I love my dolls’ faces – all of them – but in the midst of an episode I’m often struck by the unanimated expressions of inanimate objects. I hit this most often with Daisy, who has a decided happy expression on her face through all manner of unsettling experiences. (Oddly, Camellia’s expression is suitable to just about any adventure.)

I’ve played around with changing expressions before, by going and fiddling pixel by pixel, but in the midst of my Photoshop tutorials over the weekend, I ran across the “liquefy expression” tool.

Before I show you the details of the tool, here’s the effect.

First, here’s my Strawberry doll (one of the doll in the Up Above treehouse adventure) with her normal expression:

Adorable, but she’s going to have all kinds of adventures that make her smile. Here’s a 30 second adjustment to change her mood

And here’s a similar transformation with Amy. I’ve taken her from her normal, somewhat curious expression:

To a slightly shocked response

If you want to try it out with your own copy of Photoshop, here are the steps.

First, start with a head on (or mainly head on) shot. The tool works by automatically recognizing the parts of the face, which it can only do if you photograph head on.

Then, click on the layer containing the dolls face and choose Filter -> Liquify.

If Photoshop recognizes the face in your image, the Liquify tool will come up with the Face tool automatically selected and you’ll see white markers around the region it identifies as the face.

Then, it’s just a simple matter of playing around the possibilities. You can either drag the handles on the face itself, or use the slides in the panel.

For Strawberry’s smile, I just increased the Smile slider.

For Amy’s shocked look, I decreased the smile, widened her mouth, opened her mouth slightly, and increased the size of her eyes.

There are more freeform ways of making these kinds of changes. Under the Edit menu, there’s something called “Puppet warp” that lets you identify any area and then warp it into new positions. I played around with this for about 10 minutes and successfully changed the position of Daisy’s arm in one of her shots. But, it’s easier to get things wrong with the more complex tools. The liquefy tool, OTOH, is super simple. Just drag the sliders until you get the effect you want.

One thing I did notice is that neutral-faced dolls (like Amy and Strawberry) are easier to change than smiling/frowning dolls. With Daisy’s natural smile, even a “full frown” setting just makes her mouth neutral.

For this week’s episode – one of Daisy’s – I’m going to continue my Photoshop lessons, and I have a book from Scott McCloud (of Understanding Comics) to really explore the panel nature of telling stories.



In my (almost) 60th year on earth I decided to set my fashion dolls free of their clothes and accessories and send them on adventures. This is your window onto my own adventure into a land of crafts where I have zero skills, talent or mentors. Wish me (and my dolls) luck!

7 thoughts on “Through the miracle of Photoshop – changing your doll’s expression

  1. You have some very lovely dolls. I like your enhancement techniques too. I still have a lot of work to do on photographing dolls. My mother spent most of the last two decades making her own porcelain dolls. I have crafted a few of my own too, though I suppose a sixty year old man should not be playing with dolls quite so much.


    1. Ah, being able to craft your own dolls! That would be lovely. I managed to find a few dolls I love, but without a doll crafter, I’d be lost. As an almost 60-year-old woman, I give you total permission to play with dolls 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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